Every college coach uses a recruiting funnel to help them identify, select and ultimately make offers to high school athletes they want on their team. The funnel is nothing more than a way for a coach to logically sort through hundreds or thousands of prospective student athletes and ultimately make an offer to a select handful. College recruiting is a game of big numbers. Coaches who have successful programs year after year work big numbers from several graduating classes simultaneously. They are constantly sifting through seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshman with an eye to the future. Also, they make offers to juniors, sophomores and freshmen when they feel they have the right athlete; and they use the funnel to help them.
It is imperative for athletes who want to play sports in college and get a scholarship to understand the recruiting funnel, how it works and where they are in the funnel at any given time. In order to get a scholarship offer, a prospective student athlete must successfully pass through the seven steps of the recruiting funnel. The process can stop any point in time and the athlete would be unaware of the change. Also, the process can stop and re-start months later and the athlete would miss this important signal from a coach.
Step number 1 and the single most important factor in college recruiting is to get coaches to know about you. In other words you must get into the top of the recruiting funnel. For example, there are more than 1 million high school football players competing for 20,000+/- freshman roster spots. Also, there are approximately 800 college football programs (head coaches) sifting through this army of players. Your goal is to separate yourself from the pack of 1 million players and get the 800 football coaches to know about you, your academics, athletics and things that make you different and better than the next player.
The process holds true for all NCAA sports for men and women. The numbers may be different but the challenge is the same – GET NOTICED.
Most athletes take the following approach:
They wait until they are seniors to get started.
They wait for the high school coach to lead the way.
They wait for a college coach to pick up the local newspaper and find them.
They hope a coach finds them on a free website.
They think that by joining a club team they will be noticed.
Most of these athletes go un-noticed, or by time they are noticed the roster spots are gone, they don’t get recruited and don’t play ball beyond high school. Some are a bit more fortunate and they get an offer to play. But by time they are noticed the scholarship money is gone and they have to decide between paying full tuition and playing, or finding a less expensive school and forgo playing ball.
The best way to get into the top of the recruiting funnel is to have a marketing plan in place. Reach out and contact all schools where you have a reasonable chance to compete academically and athletically. Contact more than the dozen schools near your home or the top 50 teams you see on TV.
Use all the tools possible in your quest to be noticed:
Letters of Recommendation